2008 Detroit Auto Show: 2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
What it Is
2009 Volkswagen Passat CC -- Detroit Auto Show: Next thing you know, they’ll be telling us that black is white and up is down. There are few certainties in life, but one has always been this simple premise – sedans have four doors, coupes have two. Mercedes-Benz started the unraveling with the CLS, and now the baton has been passed with the introduction of the 2009 Volkswagen Passat Coupe, or as VW sometimes calls it, the Passat CC. Artfully sculpted, this vehicle attempts to alter the definition of what constitutes a sedan and, more importantly, what constitutes a Volkswagen. With sophisticated styling and technology more deserving of an Audi, the launch of the Passat Coupe unleashes haunting memories of short-lived Phaeton.
Why it Matters
It didn’t take Volkswagen long to realize that its Phaeton luxury sedan experiment was not destined to be a monumental success. As a result, the company refocused on smaller, less expensive and more efficient rides like the GTI along with desirable SUVs including the Touareg and upcoming Tiguan. With those areas of its portfolio addressed, VW can once again turn its attention to the midsize four-door segment, as it attempts to use coupe-like style and unique features to grab shoppers considering the all-new Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, and others. The 2009 Volkswagen Passat CC goes on sale later this year.
What’s Under the Hood
Two engines will be available with the 2009 Passat CC, starting with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that boasts 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque; VW estimates a 0-60 mph time of 7.6 seconds. Passat Coupe may instead opt for the 3.6-liter V-6 pushing 280 horses and 266 lb.-ft of torque, good for a run to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. The front-drive turbo-four comes with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, whereas the V-6 gets standard 4Motion all-wheel drive and the a six-speed Tiptronic automatic. A Dynamic Drive Control suspension system is offered with Normal, Sport, and Comfort modes.
What it Looks Like
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, the Mercedes-Benz CLS should be feeling pretty good right about now. That luxury model was the first to introduce the so-called four-door coupe, a concept adapted by VW with the newest Passat. With a sleek nose and low roofline, the Passat CC is one inch longer than the Passat Sedan, adds about a half inch in track width, 1.4 inches in width, but stands about two inches lower. The tail is finished with an integrated spoiler and substantial wrap-around lenses, while the wheel wells are filled with standard 17-inch or optional 18-inch alloys.
Volkswagen dubs the Passat coupe a four-passenger vehicle, one with an interior that can dressed with upscale finishes and features. Genuine wood and brushed aluminum trims are available, as are an ambient lighting package and three distinct steering wheels. Standard six-way power seats can be upgraded with ventilated 12-way chairs. Also optional is a new touch-screen navigation system, a self-parking system first seen on the Lexus LS 460L, and advanced lane departure technology. Like other systems, Lane Assist tracks the vehicle’s movement between road markers, but when it senses drifting the Passat CC gently steers back into the proper lane (this can be easily overtaken by the driver).
What Volkswagen Says
According to Volkswagen press material, the Passat CC’s identifying characteristics include “coupe design, yet with four doors; impressive comfort, yet pure dynamics; sporty interior, yet space without compromises. The interplay of these contrasts has resulted in a car whose concept and design set a new course beyond the mainstream.” It goes on to claim that “the Passat Coupe will employ a range of technology that reflects the top level in this segment worldwide. Tailored to these technologies is a body that was completely restructured and redesigned.”
What We Think
When your styling mimics one of the most attractive German luxury cars on the market, chances are you’ll grab some positive attention, and we’ll be the first to call the Passat CC one sexy looker. Couple those sweet body lines with either genuinely-entertaining powertrain and the package just gets better. Same goes for the advanced technological features. But the Passat coupe’s success or failure will be wholly dependent on pricing – it’s what killed the Phaeton. There’s a limit to what buyers will pay for a Volkswagen. If priced correctly, this could be a hit for the company. Otherwise, the Passat CC will sit on lots as a sign of executive arrogance.
By Thom Blackett
Photo credit: Volkswagen of America